Important Announcement: Update on Project Gender Bender
Soft Spoken Brutality: Somehow, someway, I’ll try to make you stay.
When Kaneki awoke, he did so in a way he was used to. Painfully. The youth expected his daze to end in another episode of suffering, one he supposed he deserved if he thought about it carefully.
“I see you’re awake.” a calm voice broke through his trail of thoughts. It held the quality of spring after a cold bitter season of death.
He supposed the next question would come from the man who sat across the table, calmly looking at Kaneki with an expression void of any emotion. The pause allowed Kaneki to study the man in detail, white hair, a silver briefcase, glasses that spoke of clean cut professionalism. Everything about this man screamed formality to the youth, he wondered what he was doing in his apartment.
The calm that seemed to permeate the entire room due to the man led Kaneki astray, he didn’t even realise that his legs were not able to move and that he had something liquid permeating the shirt he was currently wearing. The burning in his eye also led to a slow realisation of the current situation.
Didn’t the manager speak of investigators carrying briefcases?
He supposed the proverbial cat was out of the bag then.
Well, it didn’t take the world too long after all.
Rize knew that something was amiss, Kaneki was gone for days after she had last seen him, it was always like this with that frustrating and condescending… She stopped that line of thought before she got irritated again, it wouldn’t be good to start devising painful ways to make him pay for her inconvenience when she was somewhat in charge of his welfare.
This entire situation started with her usual relaxing morning, drinking a cup of coffee at Anteiku, her temporary base of operations following the situation with the manager. Her routine of coming to the cafe and relaxing before continuing on with her lifetime of enjoyment and relaxation at the expense of others didn’t change. She needed to vent her frustration with Kaneki, in a non destructive manner, otherwise she would be quite out of it.
A slew of admirers that never stopped coming even after her hunting days, the managers watchful eye prevented her making a snack of any of them. Now that she paused to examine her routine without the excess of the hunt and binge eating, she realised that her thirst for blood had died down.
It wasn’t gone, somethings would still make her blood boil like nothing else, however he desire to devour all that she could seemed to have calmed due to the regulation she faced.
“Nothing to pacify you like the fear of death huh.” She huffed, in a manner that resembled annoyance. Yet, she wasn’t really annoyed. Even those peace lovers that she was supposed to hate for disrupting here natural routine. They were quite accommodating, despite it all.
“Rize-san, the wall may be quite interesting, however I’d like to inquire as to where Kaneki-kun is.” a voice broke the stupor she was currently in.
“Manager-san” she replied lazily, not really intending to humour his attempt at linking the new ghoul to her.
“He is an adult and can do as he pleases. What he does in his own time is none of my concern.” she replied airily whilst demonstratively staring at her fingernails. She always wondered when the well of the managers patience would run dry. She supposed it could be a side project, after all, it is a harmless experiment.
“Of course he can, I would never imply otherwise,” he smiled, continuing “however, Kaneki-kun, whilst not being your responsibility, is the one who trusts you above all else.”
She had never considered it that way before. She had admirers, she had authority figures, however, she was severely lacking in those who understood her plight and stayed with her beyond the superficial reasons as listed above. Perhaps the manager was right to a degree, not that she would ever admit any of this to someone. Fending for herself did have a certain enjoyable pace to it.
“Also, as the one who introduced the young man to the life of a ghoul, a life that you of all people should know has its own set of extreme difficulties” he paused solemnly. “Perhaps your sense of camaraderie can be kindled due to both of you having struggles of the sort that one can’t deal with on their own.”
“Manager, I understand already, I’ll check up on him.” she said haughtily, perhaps too much so, judging by the gentle and knowing smile on the managers wrinkled face.
“I knew we would see eye to eye on this matter.” he stated with finality, inclining his head a small angle downwards and walking away with the same confidence that he usually carries on his home court.
“I suppose I could get this annoying matter out of the way quickly,” she huffed, standing up and briskly leaving the quiet afternoon cafe.
Arriving at the apartment did not take anytime at all, a normal pace led to her arriving only fifteen minutes after he departure from Anteiku, however the calm walk there had no prepared her for smelling someone she hoped she would never have to see.
The door was damaged, yet it was locked, the starving ghoul that was trapped inside would never have taken the care to close and lock the door nearly ripping it off the hinges.
Perhaps it was not too late to turn back and hope she escaped with her life, that man’s goodwill had limits after all…
“Rize-san, how nice of you to join us. Please come in, we have much to discuss.”
Now that it was too late to run, well hopefully she could at least die with some dignity she pondered. Walking toward the door and turning the handle.
“Kishou Arima. It has been a while.”
Kaneki only recovered from the blood loss inflicted through his own stupidity much later. 2 days later to be specific. Yet even while he slept, the door was knocked on meticulously for fifteen to twenty minutes. This punctual stranger refused to give up on his goal and on the third day, the day on which Kaneki awakened. The knock came once more.
It would not be wise to open it of course, he realised. With the corpse being hidden and the blood the decorated his bedroom.
Kaneki had no idea of the pattern that the stranger had maintained in his visits. Hence, the suspense he had lasted for much longer than necessary. In that time, he inspected the wound that should have adorned his head. The only remains of that psychotic episode were the bloodstained walls and shelf. The majority of which were adorned with the crimson substance, the decorative vase that he had bought in his youth went from white and blue to a more grisly brown.
Oxygenated blood had a unique colour after all, initially it is vibrant and eventually it is disgusting. Just how death creates shock and then dies down to a constant reminder to all those who are involved in anyway.
The hunger he felt however was much more real, it gave the world new colours. The tingling sensation in his chest from fear. The hungering beast that lived within him, it desired a feast. Perhaps since no one had found out about the first time he had acted like a famished animal, no one would find out this time.
His reasoning, which was only partaken in his head, grew stronger by the second, yet it wasn’t Kaneki who was making the decision, instead this decision was seen from a perspective that was so foreign and uninvolved that it seemed almost unrealistic.
Just like how he saw the splinters in the door, the dust and nails adorning the floorboards and the filament in the ceiling lights. The detail, with how the nails were bent, the filament was curved, the splinters being like islands upon the smooth wood. All of this he noticed, yet the feeling of hunger and fear grew fainter in comparison. This was lost upon him.
The beating of his heart grew fainter and fainter. The searing sensation in his eye almost completely disappeared. The thrumming of an underwater world was the replacement to the quiet apartment atmosphere, this was vastly different to the darkness of his sleep or even his calmer moments when awake.
Suddenly the thrumming was interrupted by a sharp pain in his lower back. The hunger returned, as his consciousness was hit by the full force of the desire to feed. The moment of calm he experienced seemed to have completely disappeared. The overall level of sensory input decreased, however the specificity of what he could see, hear and smell only grew.
The investigator genius was about to leave for the third time when he heard activity. The laboured breathing, the soft knock on the floor and the sudden absolute silence.
His hand was on the on his quinque as soon as the door flew open, the impact of which left it shaking on its hinges twice this week.
Before he could be dismembered by the incoming onslaught of crimson appendages, he ducked the incoming assault. It was easy to see the agitation and desperation of this famished ghoul. The assault was meant to kill, not maim. Yet, that made it much more predictable and easy to stop. A dash forward and a slice to the stomach, the pain should have some stopping power, whilst killing the ghoul instantly was always an option. That would defeat the purpose of a fact finding mission.
Furthermore, it would be irritating to kill something instantly when the time dedicated to learning something about it was this long. Instead the disabling blow would have to do for now. At the very least, that was the plan. The following cut to the arm by Arima was meant to completely tear the appendage off, if not keep it barely attached. What happened completely threw the calm investigator off, as the first cut was not even a quarter as deep as he intended, whilst the second was a merely a scratch on the forearm.
The surprise he felt hopefully was kept to a minimum, after all, a ghoul with such killer instincts could not have stayed under the radar for this long. Especially his radar. This could be the lucky break that Arima had been hoping for in his search across the wards. However, for this to count as anything, the ghoul had to be disabled and alive. The investigator swiftly overturned the quinque whilst dodging the second onslaught of the now horizontally aimed kagune, instead he did what the ghoul did not expect, the hand of the ghoul lay on the floor meters from the borrowed quinque that Arima was using.
The ghoul started clutching his arm, in this moment the next strike pierced the calfs of the panicked youth. Making him lean back and fall from the pain and a lack of balance. The ferocity of the initial assault was gone by the natural reflex of fear when faced with a more powerful and imposing foe.
The grab of the collar and the sharp pull led Kaneki to be dragged back into the apartment, Arima then immediately closed the door.
He inspected the damage, the ghoul would live. That however, was only the easy part.
Kaneki being her responsibility was something she expected, given that she was the only one who knew of his unique situation thus far. The manager only knew the bare details, and she would guess that the old ghoul was too smart to share this information with anyone.
Kaneki Ken beating his head against the wall into a bloody pulp was never what she expected to come from this situation. Stabbing him again was always an option. Yet, Rize always saw herself as being one above the violence, with the violent demeanour only serving to punctuate her point. However, with Kaneki being violent and unreasonable, her words don’t seem to mean much to the young man.
“Kaneki. You may hate ghouls, but you are a ghoul, instead of hurting yourself and denying your own existence. Try to simply live.” She attempted to implore. However, she always did forget that not everyone lived and let live like her.
His banging didn’t stop. Perhaps it only worsened, morality and the realisation that he had committed murder seemed to weigh upon him endlessly. It was an unspoken agreement that both of them honoured. The murder was not to be mentioned. The corpse was still in the bathroom. The blood was still on his shirt. The entrails were simply drier and smelled much more pungent.
Time was supposed to wipe away the sin, instead it only seemed to reinforce the existence of the sin.
“Rize-san, if I can’t die, I can’t refuse to participate in death either? Do you not see the cruelty?” this was almost a plea. To die so he would not have to be part of death.
A slap echoed across the room.
“Get over yourself.” An angered look on his bloodied face was all she could register. Yet the indignant tone seemed to shock the youth into submission.
“You feel sorry for yourself and want to die. Why didn’t you, Jason gave you a way out.” she paused. Hoping her message would sink in.
“How could I simply resign when I had something to live for?” he shot back, almost instantly, this time with much more fervour in his tone.
The accusation rung in the air.
“Ghouls aren’t worthy of life then.” she stated, almost rhetorically.
Then understanding dawned on the young man, however retracting his words at this point would be far too late.
“I’m sorry.” he said solemnly.
The deafening silence simply permeated the air for the time being, almost reminding the whole universe of the tension that exists in moments of emptiness. Then with a thundering whisper, it broke.
“No, no you are not.” her anger was almost permeable, yet this was not the anger that flashed across the heavens, letting all know of its presence, it was a simmering feeling disappointment.
What followed surprised the half ghoul even more than the anger itself. “Then die for all I care.” he heard much more clearly than he would have liked.
She left. The door shaking on its hinges due to the strength that it was slammed with.
The gall he had, with which he mocked her. It was infuriating. Every scrap, the hunger, the danger, the despair. She finally had a life she wanted, abundance, splendour, companionship? Instead he claims that she is not worth anything that she had fought for inch by inch to obtain.
It is exactly the poverty of the ghouls and supposed superiority of the humans that infuriated her. Being born into an assortment of safety and wonder, never having to worry about going hungry.
Yet a voice in her head, a quiet voice, compared to her anger in the very least. It keeps reminding her that he has no way of empathising or even understanding her pain. Just like she has no way to understand and empathise with his.
What she was missing whilst she walked was the orange haired stalker who was determined to find out more about his friend.
“Rize-san!” he shouted, “Wait! I need to ask you about Kaneki” however, she paid him no heed. Like any nuisance, hopefully he would leave with time. Instead he simply got louder and much more persistent.
“Rize-san! I won’t tell anyone. I promise” this time she paused, looking at him with the coolest expression he had ever seen.
“and what do you know?” her stare showing no tolerance for this conversation before it even saw the light of day.
“But it wouldn’t be alright to speak of this here.” He pointed to the other people conspiratorially. However, his following statement surprised her by the extent of the information he wielded,.
“I saw what happened at the elevator”
All her doubts were erased, now the choice of whether or not someone or something else needed to be erased summarily dawned on her.
Yet, that thought died as quickly as it was born, the old man whom she knew the boy sought made sure of it. Even from a distance, his authority only served to make her life much more confusing and difficult, perhaps it was a necessity. After all, one cannot simply live in joy and bliss all of the time.
Arima was going over the reports of ghouls for the ward, since he temporarily stationed himself here. His responsibility being a major priority. His secondary purpose known only to himself was also a major motivation for scouring even the lesser known wards for a worthy candidate.
Thus, when the report of a missing person in one of the local apartments came in for this ward. He was surprised, wasn’t that the same building in which a victim of a local ghoul attack had lived?
“Takizawa. I’m going out to investigate” he stated calmly
“Yes! Of course! I’ll notify Houji-san.” the young subordinate stuttered out to the legend.
This order of business would need to be resolved soon, and Arima had a creeping suspicion that things were not as they seemed.
He awoke painlessly. The numbness was spread throughout his body. His lips were dry. This dryness was on the borderline of irritation. An exploratory lick of his lips discovered a substance much to sweet to be attached to the flesh.
He bit down hard.
The blood continued to flow.
Why would he bite down on his own lips? A massive chunk was missing. However, the blood flow itself seemed to slow to a trickle. A pair of eyes were on him quite quickly. He didn’t understand. He wasn’t hungry.
“What happened?” The lack of honourifics was a growing habit. The situation only worsened the need for answers and panic within the young man.
“Please. Please. Tell me.”
He was at a loss, the apartment smelled disgusting. When did he start noticing that? The smell was both localised, yet paradoxically permeating the entirety of the room.
Raising his arms slowly into his field of vision, trying to grasp the origin of the smell. Blood. His hands were stained. Dark oxygenated blood, lighter and more pale red blood. Even some blood that wasn’t blood at all. It all stained his hands and his shirt. Fading and entering the fabric in different permutations of a bloody existence.
The next thing was a sprint to the mirror. A mad dash worthy of anyone in such panic. The entrails the adorned his black pants and button shirt were worthy of any murderer.
“I didn’t do this.” He muttered to himself.
“He had to deny it, because he was scared” he heard mockingly. “You ate. You killed. You cried? One of those doesn’t belong.” the voice continued.
The burning in his chest was anger, remorse and sadness. The sheer disregard he heard for his plight frustrated him. He was trapped in the apartment.
“You could have left you know.” the voice somehow knew his thoughts.
“I may have been mistaken, when I made you believe your stay was forced.” the voice continued.
Now that he had calmed he remembered who his benefactor was.
The situation that Rize returned to was not pretty. Neither was it an easy fix. A corpse that was devoid of any blood or substance. A flailing Kaneki-ken, his kagune seemingly twisting aggressively at any movement that happened close to him.
The stark realisation had hit her one week too late. She was torturing him. What else was starving a ghoul called. The corpse was not the priority, in this part of the 20th, bodies were often found left over after the more feisty ghouls such as herself. Not everyone loved peace, ‘but everyone loved living’, she though to herself sarcastically, thinking of the manager’s subtle warnings and threats.
“Kaneki” a pause “Stop!” The sternness of her voice and her recognisability seemed to made him tilt his head up, seeing his face filled with anguish, it angered her. This was however not the time for that.
In his moment of hesitation, she instantly quartered his limbs, walking up to him. The lack of struggle despite the pain he was supposed to be in surprised her. Perhaps there was hope for this weakling yet. However, she was slightly confused, the corpse of that human, the extent of the damage wrought seemed to be done by someone that was anything but weak.
With a purpose, she knocked him out. For his own safety of course. Little did she realise that she was being observed by Hide. He saw everything.
He left without making a sound.
The dove. A creature of peace and tranquility. It takes a fantastically twisted sense of irony to title the organisation that is single handedly charged with murdering without remorse after a creature with the symbolic history of a dove.
The CCG office was buzzing with activity. The Special Class investigator Arima Kishou was personally conducting an inspection of the ward. With him an unnamed member of the 0 squad. This was a usual occurrence, done by an unusual person. He refused to make any sound or state any opinion. This visit was not about Kishou Arima, it was about the 20th ward and he planned to keep it as such.
Briefing him on the affairs of the ward was Kousuke Houji, a rigid man with a demeanour made of silk. The Associate Special Class investigator along with First Class Mado were the highest ranking officials in the 20th ward CCG office. Arima was impressed by the diligence and organisation by the leadership and their subordinates. Not that he would personally ever acknowledge or even mention this. The incompetence of many in the CCG was seen by Arima, perhaps from a bird’s eye view. Not that this was undeserved given his reputation and prowess as a lethal bureaucrat and killing machine.
“The Gourmet and Binge Eater investigations have narrowed down the hunting zones of the ghouls to the approximate areas that converge upon the streets here and here” the continued meeting filled with briefing was protocol. Houji was a master of protocol.
However, on an unspoken level, Arima always arrived for a ward inspection as an unofficial way for assisting in the affairs and investigation at that particular ward. This was something that was left from his youth, where his prowess was required to defeat violent ghouls in the 4th ward and so on forth.
“Besides the Gourmet and Binge Eater investigations, the ghoul activity in the 20th is minimum, with the ward ranking last in missing persons cases and violent deaths attributed to ghouls.” the soft knocking of a pen onto the table in the office came from the young Seidou Takizawa.
No mind was given to the youthful investigator. Instead, the focus was predominantly on Arima, what he was thinking and his opinion were quite important to many of the investigators at the 20th. Especially to those like Takizawa that were still gaining experience and learning from veterans.
The viel was pierced as soon as the eyes turned.
“What do you know about the Aogiri Tree?”
“Hideyoshi Nagachika, what you saw today, it is imperative that no one finds out.” the manager said to the boy seated silently in front of him in the talking room above the Anteiku store.
“This is important for the survival of the only non-violent community of ghouls in this part of Tokyo, we believe that even if it must be our fate to devour your kind, we can do so without the brutality that we are so known for.” The conviction with which this was spoken seemed to move the young man, or at least that was what anyone would have thought.
The large impressionable eyes, the serious demeanour, Hide knew what was at stake. He knew what he wanted.
“Yoshimura-san, in exchange for this information being kept secret, would you tell me what happened to my friend?”
A clicking sound signified the locking of the room. A gasping sigh was heard from the reluctant yet at the same time frenzied Kaneki.
The crimson red adorning his hospital gown wasn’t his nor his companion’s. However, the black eye that was shinning brightly, seemingly mocking the concept of anything seen as ordinarily beautiful. That belonged to him.
The shock and awe, the frenzy and panic. The deep thrumming within Kaneki’s ears. The density of the atmosphere alone seemed to drown the still confused young man.
‘Veel? This is veel right? Rize-san!’ his voice grew to a much more frantic tone ‘please?’
Her smile told him otherwise. However, the human refusal to believe and the power of denial seemed to win out against the truth in his mind.
‘Then pork? It has to be?’ the second came much slower, more uncertain, almost testing his own psyche if it was ready for the truth.
‘Of course, that is why I locked the door and shut the blinds’ with this biting sarcastic remark, she shut down any and all of his protests.
Walking up to him, she wiped her finger in the blood on the plate, his desperate gasping growing more and more frantic by the second.
‘Kaneki-kun. It appears we are one and the same now.’ Her tone was implacable, yet her expression was amused. Despite his upset expression, when the blood dripped down into his waiting mouth, he swallowed.
——————— Time-skip (2 weeks)
Hide didn’t know where his friend was. He wanted to say he did. He wanted to think he did. He was worried, two weeks without a single message or contact.
The young man constantly roamed the 20th ward and patrolled Anteiku. Religiously. There was not a day when the bright orange haired youth wasn’t acting whimsical whilst ‘hitting on’ the waitress at Anteiku. The facade however was common knowledge, yet it was like an open secret. Everyone at the coffee shop felt slightly responsible for the young man and his disappearance, it was under their watch that the ghoul sympathising human met his end at the hands of another of their kind.
Yet spotting Rize-san was a somewhat lucky occurrence for Hide, each time he would go bug her and ask her about his friend and where he was situated. Each time he would be denied. She didn’t know she claimed. She didn’t care she stated. She forgot who he has she said.
Yet his persistence never faltered. Wasn’t that what friends were for?
On the other hand the staff at Anteiku were worried for the young man, for Rize was not know for her legendary temper and impulsiveness for nothing.
Yoshimura in particular had always given Rize a visual warning to patiently wait out the young man. He knew where Kaneki was. He knew what happened. Rize and her unspoken debt to the ward was slowly being paid off, in part through her tolerance of the perceptive human friend.
In her head however this human annoyance was truly gnawing away at her ability to control herself. She hadn’t even known that it was possible for the kakugan to manifest when not hunting, apparently intense anger or frustration can do the trick.
However, hindsight seems to always be 20/20.
Only one saw. No one caught on in time, Hide managed to hide his surprise well enough to leave. Rize only realised what happened once she saw the shocked look on the manager’s face. This time however, no words were exchanged.
The staring battle between Kaneki and the plate of ‘meat’ on the counter in front of him was progressing slowly. Torturously so.
“I’m supposed to eat this aren’t I” this exclamation was one of the many that filled his head.
“I accept that I am no longer human, but I refuse to be a ghoul!”
“Eat, eat. Eat!” His hands on his temples. His body curled up on the chair in front of the sustenance he needs. 2 weeks without food, a permanently active kakugan and a merciless benefactor. Kaneki Ken has not spoken to anyone but himself for the last week.
Begging for the first week wasn’t working, neither was crying himself to exhaustion and continuously attempting to eat the human food that he was brought. The futility of his action and his mental fatigue simply shut him down, he refused to acknowledge anyone but himself.
Not that he was allowed to see anyone beyond the one taking care of him. The staring match continued. Until a knocking was heard.
Humans rarely went into derelict or old apartment buildings, it was looking for trouble. All ghouls knew this, what they didn’t know was that some humans ignored this unspoken arrangement, this unlucky building safety inspector being one of them.
“Open the door, I am here to inspect the support beams for this apartment, the whole building is structurally compromised. If this door is not opened, I will be forced to seek a permit to breach into this apartment building.
The inspector rattled on, refusing to acknowledge or listen to the insane rumble of voices inside the place he was so desperate to enter.
“Forced to?” the three syllable phrase pierced the sound of his knocking.
“Yes. Forced to enter, this is for your safety as well as for the safety of the other inhabitants of this building.”
“Forced to?” was repeated again.
Suddenly the door opened, but before the inspector could say anything, he died.
A sick squelch could be heard from the door to the apartment, all the way to the ceiling and ground floor. A hungry ghoul seems to temporarily relinquish sanity, a hungry ghoul who has never experienced hunger before could not even think.
The red tentacles and the bleeding corpse were all that was left of this human. Who, like many in Tokyo, died of random ghoul attacks.
Yet even as the man was being devoured, another liquid mixed together with his blood.
Kaneki Ken was tired. Tired was all he was. A hyperbolic assessment of his current physical state.
That was everyone expected to hear.
That was what they all thought.
Yet, that was not the case.
At least not this time.
Waking up in the hospital was a surprise, for me it was surprising because of the part where I woke up. Waking up was never part of the plan. For only the hero was supposed to wake up, especially after fighting desperately till the end. Me? I was the lamb, I live to ensure others don’t die. That was always the belief I held for myself. The bitter end. That was supposed to be it.
Undoubtedly an unpleasant end, filled to the brim with intimidating white men and blood thirsty companions. Yet it was an end that I faced with courage…
The courage of a life time that I had gathered for that one moment of true significance! I was denied. Once more.
Ken himself was distraught, yet in his confusion and rage, he failed to notice a key that was missing from the scene.
His pain was gone.
This realisation was astoundingly simple, and it was abruptly interrupted.
It was frustrating.
That was what Rize thought to herself upon entering the room and seeing Kaneki in such a state. That was undoubtedly an annoying sentimentality, one that a powerful ghoul such as Rize often thought was beneath her, for there was always a certain image to maintain. Yet she allowed herself this opportunity to get annoyed, because the colossal stupidity that Kaneki possessed was simply beyond her.
A human, after a ghoul attack not too long ago, goes back to a dark alley during the night. That lack of self preservation was paradoxical and odd, and frustrating, considering her personal investment in the safety of this particular human. Along with an annoying manager’s…
“Hi.” a sickly sweet tone permeated the hospital room, almost cancelling the smell of the antiseptic.
“Giving me the cold shoulder isn’t the smartest thing, considering how easily I get annoyed.” the tone not so sweet this time.
He was really trying her nerves. The underlying annoyance was also laced with some concern. Worry would be putting too much emphasis. Yes, concern.
Exasperated, she sat down next to the young man, continuously looking at him with a stare that would have pierced his heart.
“Rize-san, what are you doing here?” he said, in the most calm and collected voice that he could muster given his current condition. During this point in time, Rize, well she did not know whether or not annoyance was tangible when it was reaching critical levels, controlled herself from indulging in anymore violence.
“I know I messed up, I hope the manager knows that I am truly sorry for the massive problems that I have caused.” This self criticality was exasperating and perhaps even baffling. The desire to scream at him was increasing with each passing second.
“Do you know how much trouble I went through to visit you in this hospital? How about the explanation I had to give to each doctor and nurse. If I truly wanted to. I would have screamed at you upon entering the room!” this outburst was quiet in volume, loud in expression.
His facial features were shocked. To anyone else it seemed like he was deathly afraid. Yet to her she could see the surprise on his features after her outburst.
“The manager would come to see you himself, but unfortunately the amount of doves in the ward increased massively since this little accident…”
The concern everyone showed for his wellbeing was unusual for the hospitalised and injury laden Kaneki, no one except for Hide cared about what happened to him. This was something that he was religiously convinced of time and time again.
“I would thank him in person, but I doubt my presence would be good for Anteiku considering the attack,” smart. Thinking ahead and the logic behind the process impressed the femme fatale. Yet, there was something odd about his logic, not the logic itself, but the presence of it in such controlled state.
Humans are fragile creatures, this can usually be said for their physical prowess and state, yet despite the supposed mental fortitude of the human race, a general assumption that Rize made throughout her life time was that: ghouls and humans are equally mentally handicapped.
Trauma, anger, sadness, happiness, excitement and fear. These emotions, at least in her own humble opinion, were part of both races. No matter how much anyone tried to deny it of course.
Yet something was off, there was another ghoul in the vicinity. Not that it was unusual of course, the permeation of ghouls within society being quite complete and unnoticed by most. This of course did not mean that she would drop her guard, quite the opposite, other ghouls needed to be observed. Especially, with her upbringing. One can never know who is a friend or foe.
Yet the more she stayed, the stronger the presence of this ghoul grew, it was as if he was coming closer. That was the justification she gave for the increasing smell, yet the growing pit in her stomach would dictate that something was wrong. Incredibly so.
‘Rize-san’ he uttered in a small voice. Bereft of the earlier confidence. Fear took its place.
‘Why can I smell the nurse? Why does she smell so good?’ he continued, terrified.
The food she had brought her human companion as a get well gift suddenly took on an entirely new purpose.
‘Kaneki-kun, I have a theory.’ of course she did, and despite her outward calm, this situation excited and terrified her.
‘I want you to eat this. Slowly, chewing and tasting every bite.’ the swift motion in which she gave the young man some random irrelevant pastry was not the key detail.
He retched. He absolutely retched. No doubt about that in her mind existed. Yet, this wasn’t enough. Not to prove something this insurmountably insane.
The unthinkable was the only thing that would be enough.
She would need a human. From where? How? What about suspicion? She is supposed to be on the run.
“Rize-san, you may be a ghoul, but buying bread isn’t that difficult” he chuckled, attempting to lighten the atmosphere. It failed. He did however notice that her expression was forced, making him feel uncertain about what to expect from this beautiful creature.
‘Kaneki.’ her use of his full name made him realise the gravity of this situation. ‘Don’t panic no matter what happens in the next fifteen or twenty minutes’ she stated icily.
‘Promise me’ this reiteration was what sunk the final nail into the proverbial coffin of Kaneki’s last day of normality.
Omake. Or is it?
Arima was a genius,
Arima, was a genius?
Arima was a genius.
This title was neither self prescribed nor exaggerated, as due to his job of maintaining the office in the First Ward, the basic requirement of maintain a level of knowledge about what went on in the other wards was essential. Of course, this was part of the role for all investigators with any resemblance of power and authority within the CCG; yet his mechanical efficiency and lack of complaints had always been paramount to his success in the battlefield of bureaucracy.
What many failed to notice about Arima, a fact not unnoticed by the man himself, was his boundless thirst for discovery. This meant he was better prepared for the subjugation of the ghouls he would face during extermination. Yet, there was a more personal side to his curiosity, for something mundane always plagued his life, an inability to break the mould, if you will. This personal curiosity was what drove the man to wake up, what drove him to sleep. For the claims of immortality that others sang and preached about, the CCG’s reaper stalwartly warded against accepting their claims, because the fear of complacency drove him. Thus, curiosity was the perfect counter.
The desk and its mahogany texture… how was it created? This type of question, at first glance may seem daft and pointless, as any such question would simply be laid to the wayside in any other situation. That was an issue; the trivialities lay abandoned and forgotten in the face of mounting importance. Elitism. Disdain for elitism from the elitist.
The stack of reports on the man’s table only served to augment the feeling of utmost importance, along with utmost boredom. Something immediately stood out, and despite all odds, Arima noticed it. He was definitely not supposed to notice it, nor was he supposed to care. Yet, that was a first glance assumption most people made, though not that he would discourage or scold them for it. It did make his job infinitely easier: not having to worry about the internal thoughts of others due to the simplification that was involved when regarding himself.
‘The 20th Ward casualty report,’ he casually muttered to himself. The fact that even the 20th Ward had casualties was quite surprising to the man, yet what surprised him even more was the scene of the crime.
Silently, he picked up his briefcase, now personally interested.
It couldn’t have gotten any worse.
That was a phrase many have used, exaggerating its meaning and effect. On paper it meant frustration with the situation and its devolution; in reality it was a sign of the utmost pain and desolation due to the uttering of this powerful phrase.
Rize Kameshiro was thinking to herself, three days after that fateful night, about how things probably could get worse. The wounds she received are non-existent, long healed due to the nature of her kagune and her voracious appetite (at least when not caught and limited by Anteiku staff). And yet, the current situation was by far and away the first time that Rize had a terrible time for someone other than herself.
Picking up Kaneki, or the discarded remains of the boy, was difficult. The constant reminder of his merits and his interest in her was what mainly kept her appetite at bay. At the same time, there was a spark, a genuine worry for the young man, though whether this feeling stemmed from a sense of duty or some unknown kinship was yet to be determined.
Regardless of all the inner turmoil this ghoul faced, one thing remained constant: her hatred for the low profile she was obliged to keep. The cleanup in the aftermath of the mess left by Ken’s innards along with the manager’s panicked and rage-like state were matters that led to much confusion and frustration on Rize’s part. The collective security of the ward, at least what the manager liked to call it, was much more vital than her own personal comfort or needs.
At least that was what she kept telling herself. Yet the distress was very real, very irritating and very mysterious. The attempt to further dwell on the issue was, however, cut massively short.
‘Have you heard of the news?’ exclaimed an unusually excited dove. ‘This one is definitely too thin on the meat’; a subtle subconscious evaluation, undoubtedly left from her time beyond the 20th.
The other dove and his stoic face gave away no surprise, until a more silent part of the conversation escaped her notice. At least one word was heard, the only one that actually mattered.
—— — —
Kaneki was in heaven. For that was the only state the explained this new lack of pain. The hope that he would stay that way grew fainter and fainter, until the pain returned…
— — — —
For someone who prided himself on himself on the ability to maintain a calm demeanour, it was obvious to anyone who knew the manager, something was off.
The manager could only somewhat recall the events of that faithful evening. Yet he knew that he had made a massive mistake. Only now he hoped that this mistake wouldn’t cost the brave young man his life.
Another human, a different death.
The guilt was the same however…
——————————————————————————————————— ——————————————— ——— ———————————————
A/N: I’d like to think both Rize and Kaneki are troubled in their own way, only the former doesn’t admit it to herself. Hence why we see so much angstneki
The significant lack of lighting didn’t bother Kaneki, the 20th ward seemed to emanate a sensation of safety and security. Hence walking in the night would not be as detrimental to his health as it would in any other place in Tokyo. Of course subconsciously his feeling of security also stemmed from the knowledge and association with those from Anteiku, for this meant his death; if it came. Would come from someone of the human kind. Perhaps some mugger desperate for another round of drinks, or a serial murderer and maybe even some poor soul trying to feed their family.
Kaneki liked to think he was a happy person, liked to try to convince himself that he was undoubtedly a happy person. Defiantly, a thought remained perpetually plaguing the forefront of his mind, what makes you a good person? This was not the philosophical thought that came with self discovery and a desire to redeem humanity. No, this was a personal question. ‘What made me a good person?’ He would repeat this, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.
His mind would simply spin in self consuming circles. Not that Kaneki would let anyone see that, he was devoutly and firmly in the belief that his mind was impregnable, his thoughts a ;sanctum, sewer. None will have touched or should touch. This was his unspoken rule, yet he didn’t want to die. Death would have been a sweet release from the life of simply existing, for what human doesn’t want to share the load that would have broken two mens backs.
Books. That was the answer. The simplicity of being able to borrow an identity, that had always been his answer.
Yet this is why there was lack of grounding of his being in the reality of the world. He had willingly abandoned it since the times his mother was dying, for what need is a painful world in a fragile body, yet the novels he read pointed less at an escape. Instead they were supposed to be a reminder of those who couldn’t chose their fate. The tortured protagonist in Sen Tatsuki’s ‘Black Goats Egg’? He has no choice. He exists and cannot even escape from his existence in the novel. Kaneki can, he can leave and go where he desires.
This was seemingly the sign of the escape being attempted. A purpose in life would bring Kaneki back to reality. Thats what he told himself, thats what Hide told himself, thats what Hide told him. Thats what not dying told him. Yet he’d be dying again fairly soon.
The manager was for once, unsure of what to do. For there in this ward stood Jason, this was not unwillingness to act. It was uncertainty. A slow throbbing was drowning out the world, as the manager went through all the possibilities of how this may end. For one. Jason was not alone, another, with a certain weird posturing stood there with him. Following the blood trail may have led the manager to one case that he might have to leave for the CCG…
———————— ————— ————————————————————— ———————————
The smell of blood was thick in the air, and the manager would have my skull if I didn’t investigate what the origin of the unfortunate bleeding soul was. Yet the smirk that would have adorned my face was wiped off as suddenly as it emerged, the bleeding wasn’t random. The right amount had been cleaved, this was made to lure a hungry ghoul in.
Suddenly my pondering turns toward the worse, snarling I follow the blood trail. Stuck between fighting this suicidal would be smart ***, and the manager turning his ire toward my being. The choice was incredibly obvious, yet converging on the smell of the blood, I started to smell others.
The manager, Jason, Ken…
Four powerful ghouls stood there, each converging on the location of some poor passerby bleeding out from his neck. A painful way to go. Yet he wasn’t allowed to die. Not until Jason had made sure that Rize was in his possession…
It had taken sometime, but Aogiri Tree had managed to figure out the location of the binge eater, it wasn’t difficult. As torturing the truth out of those trying to keep quiet was this ghoul’s forte. Yet what confused Yakumo was why there were two Rize walking toward him right now. A sister? No, she had no relatives, at least none in this ward. A lover? That would seem a more likely choice, yet Jason smirked at that possibility. Who could have possibly wooed the infamous Binge Eater, he almost wanted to laugh at that possibility.
Nico would have laughed with him, for entertainment in life was always something to be appreciated. Yet he immediately spotted the difference in the two Rize that were walking toward him and his unlikely companion.
The clown faced okama tilted his head toward the weaker of the two. Yakumo grinned and nodded. Cracking his finger, before moving toward the lightless alley.
The manager realised a sense of foreboding what this would mean, yet confronting them there would have been a mistake. For this ward was off the radar of the CCG, Jason would simply have to make some noise, and flee. Perhaps the manager could have finished him, but not without alerting someone.
Instead the man tilted his hat and started progressing to the rooftops above the alley. Jason would know he is here, yet he hoped his presence would discourage any rash movements from the Aogiri ghoul. Of course the world wouldn’t be so kind.
Kaneki simply saw red. The blood wasn’t his own. Until it was.
For in a flash a blinding searing sensation dominated his senses. He couldn’t tell where the pain originated from. Where it ended. Or even if he was in pain to begin with. The pleasant numbness was undoubtedly a poisoning sensation. Pleasantly making him feel out of touch with who or what his assailant was.
‘Its human’ the voice sounded muffled, the sound filtered through throbbing underwater currents.
The next moment he was roughly thrown into the next alley.
‘Rize Kameshiro, you smell just like her.’
‘Be careful, he is quite ‘fragile’’
Once more there was simply a lack of perception or weight to those words, for the wounds he had received previously were much shallower.
Each fibre in his blood stained abdomen throbbed with life, or as much life as it could muster when everything within was escaping wildly. Wildly he thrashed and fought for the realisation of death had unlike before become unwelcome. Yet the hand o n his throat and the blood flowing downwards did not care for such sentimentalities, for the determined cruelty of the man who held him was seemingly second nature. Whilst Kaneki was someone who escaped cruel reality and not embraced it.
Thus his struggle was just like his nature, artificial and concocted. For his life was never of any value to himself, until it was.
——————————————————————————————————— ——————————————— ——— ———————————————
Rize’s perspective. 2 days and less before chapter 6.
Leaving the cafe prior would have been a very satisfying or very frustrating experience, a cup of coffee and a sack of meat. Or just the former. Whilst the cafe and their customers were of course strictly off limits, at least when taken at face value, there were always those they knew, or those around the various locations close to the cafe.
Despite the constant reminders by the manager in regards to my eating habits. My perception of his stern demeanour being forced or a facade had led to a practical disregard for anything that he said, hence my attempt at targeting Kaneki. Yet this time I was shaken, a sense of absolute fear had taken control of my extremities. All encompassing, all powerful, overpowering and supremely real. The killing intent exuded by the manager was this time fully directed at me.
“Rize-san, a word if you will” he stated, in a voice that almost seemed forcefully tranquil. Perhaps he doesn’t realise his killing intent and how it has entirely permeated the small zone that surrounded us. If I were to look around, I would surely identify other ghouls hurriedly leaving and even those working at this little sanctuary would have been surprised to see their guardian suddenly stirred.
“Manager, what would be the matter?” I drop all matter of honourifics, as if I am to die, I would do so without grovelling. I also subtly note his intentional omission of the usual warm greeting in favour of our much more. What I was not expecting was a his direction for us to talk inside. An idea sprang into my mind at that very moment.
“Manager.” I deadpan, feigning a sense of confidence, this being my only chance at retaining my life.
“Who stands to lose more from me making a scene?” I hint in a voice with arrogance befitting those fools from the 11th. The manager being of an entirely different caliber of strength, and this being broad daylight, my blind look into the twilight sky being one based entirely on desperation.
What I don’t notice is his tensing, or at least not immediately. “Is that a threat?” was almost whispered. That was part of the high stakes communication that prevents the disclosure of information tries to ensure a misstep on the part of the weaker by reinforcing the gap in strength. He knows my fear, the minute I abandoned the use of his last name meant the shedding of familiarity in favour of caution. Perhaps even terror. This advantage of mine was minute, temporary and most importantly futile.
“It would be unwise of you to cause any more trouble than you already have.” a sense of confusion dawns onto me. My inactivity since entering the ward was legendary for my appetite, yet the manager claims something had already occurred due to my person.
“I see you have returned to reason Rize-san, not the first time you have abandoned it for your own trivialities.” his annoyance being obvious and overbearing, especially considering how much I had miscalculated in regards to his temperament and what that could have cost me.
Silently I followed him, to the sitting room in the back of Anteiku, “please, sit.”
The sound of coffee being poured into antique cups was the only echo that permeated the silent. A current and relative peace that was slowly being approached and threatened by the tension relating to the future of my situation or even life.
“Do you not realise the consequences your actions carry? The people they may affect? The occurrence of the recent past: it has already attracted many unwanted detractors.” I frown; ‘many’? That was something that was most certainly unexpected, if not worrying.
“Manager, I would assume that you are referring to investigators?” my silent hope was that it was simply a few doves, slipping into another ward to redirect their search; that would be incredibly easy. His long face seemed to suggest otherwise…
“Investigators? You know as well as I do Rize-san, that the 20th ward falls well into its own expected boundaries. There are investigators at Anteiku; their families. What would lead you to believe it is investigators that I am worried about?” the no-nonsense tone of voice conveyed the almost sardonic desire to illustrate his irritation. But perhaps my nervousness is finally getting to me, affecting the way I’m perceiving his posture.
What was increasingly obvious was the disparity of information held by the two ghouls. As one could see the difference in experience was amounting to a significant advantage, at least in this particular interrogation. A facade is something all ghouls, due to the human society they inhabit, possess or are able to utilise; an undoubtedly extremely useful skill.Yet the ability to accentuate emotions and differentiate the skill of the user, that is what truly separated those who thrived from those who survived.
Kuzan; the manager, he was humble enough to understand the necessity of those skills and the implications they carried for himself and those whom he protected.
Yet the path to achieving paramount skill, that required an inordinate amount of patience-
Every calculated movement had to be followed by another statement, one must always be reading their opponent to succeed in the conflict of mind and body. The victor would be one to walk away with a sense of control and superiority; the loser left doubting the integrity of their information and thought process.
Humans who along similar lines had attempted to study this traditionally ghoul art, out of some kind of perverse fascination or spite. They had yet to realise that the ordinary survival instinct that consumes and drives those possessed to extreme lengths, for it is not even second nature. It is so primary, that many lose their original identity in the face of the threat of being discovered.
Rize, her purple hair disheveled, her posture rigid and most importantly her breathing slowed. It was a valiant attempt to get herself under some semblance of control. Yet due to the imposing authority and the critical eye with which he regarded her, his silver hair only contrasting with his dark and sharp eyes.
“I understand your familiarity with the ghouls of 11th ward, even your association with Kameshiro Matasaka in the 6th…” this line of thought was obviously a simple reiteration of the known facts. A matter that wasn’t actually a matter.
“What do you know of the Aogiri Tree?”
The night of chapter 6: Rize’s perspective.
The discussion with the manager, whilst most certainly unpleasant, was perhaps somewhat necessary given the circumstances in which I had become embroiled in. Of course as any ghoul would or wouldn’t know, my temper and patience have their limits; if faced with someone whom it is possible to eat. Yet they do say that danger makes you re-evaluate.
Due to this being the 20th ward, and the manager’s strict warnings about hunting and not causing trouble. I have remained meal-less for an extended period of time. Yet despite the physical discomfort and mental fatigue I experienced, there was a certain feeling of satisfaction, for I had seemingly finally found a place where I enjoy staying more than hating its inhabitants.
Perhaps the manager realised this, yet the man just seems more cruel and callous to me by the minute. I silently smirked, finding irony in the fact that: if any of my thoughts were to be voiced, I would be ridiculed. The manager? ‘Cruel’? Yet undoubtedly that was what he was, for otherwise he wouldn’t put a ravenous ghoul like myself as an enforcer for order.
This was the greatest irony in my life, probably even more than befriending Ken. For I have often played with my food before, yet this is the first time I’m made to ensure no one plays with theirs…
Soft Spoken Brutality: That night, basking in some evening light
Difficulty to comprehend the implications behind his current friendship was a must in this kind of situation, thought Kaneki as he lay in a somewhat comfortable bed. Comfort, to him, was a requirement for reflection, perhaps the only moment of peace during which the timidity that dominated his personality cedes ground. Reactions between adrenaline, panic and urgency; novelty, curiosity and desire; fear mixed with novelty… while those were all very self-explanatory in regards to why they were felt by Kaneki, the actual way of dealing with those particular emotions had escaped him to some particular degree.
“Perhaps this would have been the issue with any ordinary person in this kind of situation,” he muttered offhandedly. Yet he never had any particular reason to think much about ghouls, or any elements of their life. Ghouls were mentioned in the news; wards were closed off or guarded more intensely during bouts of exploding ghoul activity. Some wards were simply deemed uninhabitable by non-ghouls. Of course Kaneki knew that. Anyone living in Tokyo in this day and age would have known that much. Yet, to be living in the peaceful 20th ward and realising the truth behind the cafe that was a very important part of his daily routine weighed heavily on him, much more heavily than realising Kamishiro Rize was an actual ghoul.
Of course it is more realistic to believe that someone you just met is more likely to kill you, than the staff of a cafe you have been frequenting in the close past. That kind of conclusion would be immensely easy to make, especially if one were to take into account the fear an ordinary person has of betrayal. The deeply rooted hatred of betrayal any normal being may have is amplified in the case of this particular protagonist – familial betrayal, having to share blood with the very person who decided that their life and existence takes trump over their kin’s. It is this very betrayal, which drove the uncertainty about ghouls within Kaneki.
“Ghouls and humans, huh? With persecution being so harsh, of course the ghouls would hide…” the way he muttered it was ordinary, yet at the same time he was stating something incredibly self-evident. Perhaps it was the tiredness he was feeling due to the sleeplessness he had experienced during the past few nights. Some time had, of course, passed since the incident in Anteiku and the construction yard. Yet it seemingly all blurred behind a dull, throbbing and consistent sound of a hammer hitting a soft sheet of jello. Tiredness and a lack of food seemingly amplified the sounds one may have ordinarily heard in the process of ordinary life by almost tenfold, whilst any sort of uncertainty and panic reached a frantic pace almost instantly.
A loud ring interrupted this particular train of thought, one among many that had perhaps escaped the black haired youth in this haze of an escape. What he didn’t understand was Hide’s thought process behind trying to contact him at the youthful hours of the morning. Hide had previously attempted to find him at different, more suitable time, despite his lack of success in that endeavour. Hide’s persistency humoured Kaneki and made him quite happy. This was the anchor that remained in his life, the flagship of normality within the sea of chaos that was the setting for the more recent duration of Kaneki’s life. Yet Kaneki had his reasons for maintaining distance, at the very least in the immediate short term.
In actuality, the issues were both physical and mental: doubt and fear about two beings whom he had invested attention rejecting one another. This was less about them and their sense of worth and more about his sense of trust. It was about the soaring sensation one gets when achieving something, the throbbing when it is taken, the silence when it is gone. Yet here he decided not to take this risk, not with the mental exhaustion laughing openly at his panic. The option of lying never reached the forefront of his mind, for this wasn’t about him or his seeming betrayal of humanity. This was about his friend and his life.
Perhaps I pushed too much during our meeting with the young man. Behind the brave front lies a fragile young man. The hands and his posture telegraphs much… way too much. I have no doubt about the safety of Rize-chan or any other ghoul inhabiting the 20th ward. Yet this young man and his dilemma is too much reminiscent of becoming a ghoul himself, his mental health deteriorating due to his isolation and eventual separation from the human identity.
My inattention nearly costs me once more, as I fail to notice the teacup nearing the edge of the counter. Despite the astounding poise we display at Anteiku, a lack of attention or direction is always an issue that plagues even the veteran of our staff, with each of them being so unique in both origin and disposition.
Due to tonight being a late night shift, my relative loneliness in the cafe is justified. It is always this type of night, some night, some tasks and no ‘purpose’ to any of it beyond the routine. It is said that a schedule can take one’s mind off those troubling details that plague the present, past or future.
The next part would be to prepare and clean all of the machines for use tomorrow. Ordinarily that would, of course, involve washing the individual containers and ensuring that all filters were in place, whilst also ensuring the coffee beans and sugar along with the more ‘sensitive’ contents of the Anteiku freezer stay out of public eye. All of this seems incredibly ordinary to anyone who would observe my evening doings.
Immediately I realise the absence of Yomo and the implications of what that means for this man’s routine – an addition to my failure to realise Koma and Irimi not being the very last to have left the vicinity. It never fails to remind me of how any misstep or carelessness on my part could lead to a repetition of the more tragic portions of my youth. This type of thought is always sobering during the quiet night of reflection and isolation. My life is the price I would give for any and all of the members of Anteiku, yet sometimes it feels that despite my supposed diligence, the heat of my missteps can be obviously gathered.
Having experienced the death of many allies and friends, this steadfast approach perhaps gave and still gives this old man a sense of stability within life. This means a lot, as the faculty for success is the mind that can lead one out and into any potential situation. This is the reason that human ingenuity, despite their weakness, is known to trump the brutality of the lesser ghoul. Yet perhaps due to my steadfast appearance, others often fail to notice those missteps that occur. Of course there must be a measure of efficiency based on the frequency associated with those missteps and the importance of each individual occasion, that is, IF one had the leisurely time and opportunity for such things.
After mentally noting Yomo’s time of return, I decide to give the matter of Kaneki-kun and Rize-chan some more thought, for this instance is of vital importance in the future. On my handling of this situation rests the fate of the 20th ward, and despite my tendency to make errors, it has never truly forsaken my being. The gravity of any situation was always innately perceived: the shift in the air, the movement of those in the area, the activity of the CCG…
Soon, out of habit, I navigated to situate myself closer to the window observing the alleyway, in an attempt to pacify my usual caution. During said process I turn to observe the trash littering the street corner: packs after packs of various household commodities, human food, electric appliances, clothes and …
Chapter 5: Awkwardness…
Perhaps it was his bloodied state, the limp state of his arm as it lost its function and hung along the side of his equally bruised ribs. Maybe it was her disbelief at the situation that he had managed to cause even when he was this damaged. Both of them sat there in the same positions, speechless. It was not a matter of anger or sadness, despite their pain and mutual anguish. It was quite difficult to distinguish who was truly the victim in this instance, for on both their faces sat an expression of mutual surprise.
The red sclera and Kaneki’s wounds all pointed toward a ghoul attack, with the perpetrator literally a few steel bars away. As a result of this an awkward silence ensued, only truly broken by the laboured breaths of the human male and his extensive injuries.
“Rize-san,” he laboured between wheezes and coughs, probably pointing toward his ribcage being pushed in onto his lungs.
“I know. You may not see me- as anything… besides a meal,” he attempted to continue. The female ghoul in question perked up and seemed to prepare to lunge and finish Kaneki off with her appendages, almost out of spite. Yet she never made the move. It was almost unbelievable. Somewhere along the way his words and actions had swayed her judgement, unbelievably so. Her hunger was also a moot point, seemingly pounded out of existence by the danger she so narrowly escaped.
“But I won’t give you up to the CCG,” he finally finished and slumped backwards, the feeling of weight being lifted from his very being. He felt sorry for himself and her; this situation was wrong. That’s why here he was trying to rectify it. She merely scoffed at his peace offering, seeing it as a half measure of sorts. One that doesn’t seem to imply or bring about anything positive; a lie, similar to the many others she is familiar with in her life.
Her tone ice-cold, “Kaneki-san, what makes you think I won’t kill you right now?”
His reply came with a goofy smirk, one that would have been quite relevant, if not for his lack of flesh on the shoulder. “I don’t, but I don’t mind either way, Rize-san… I already resigned myself previously. I merely wish to give us a chance to talk some more. I really did enjoy our date!” he coughed.
Once again her disbelief was an odd combination of misguided doubt and worry, a simple lack of understanding for this human’s intentions and lastly, her own self-doubt over the possibility of finding a ‘different’ human. One that she could see as something beyond a meal.
Thus began the inner conflict over the decision of his fate, one that ironically he may not survive due to his injuries. On one hand, the CCG was a major concern if they were to find out who she was. Her identity, if compromised, would lead to a difficult life full of starvation and annoyances. The enjoyment she would get from tormenting her pray would be naught, as all her hunts would have to be quick and efficient. Not an option.
The overpowering curiosity was also at the forefront of her thoughts. Why would a human she had taunted, one who had come to terms with his faith, have saved her?
“I’ll help you call the ambulance, anything beyond that is none of my concern,” she stated matter-of-factly.
The cold tone she had adopted had almost demoralised the young teen, making him even more acutely aware of her previous façade. This realisation was not mind shattering, especially amongst the pain he was tolerating; however it was unpleasant and certainly uninvited.
“I know this may sound stupid, but Rize-san, would you stay in touch?” he said, trying his best to sound light-hearted and carefree. His attempt did not go on to succeed; instead he sounded desperate and lost.
“Goodbye Kaneki-san,” was all the answer that he had gotten.
After all she didn’t expect him to reach out, nor did she want to respond back, though a shred of doubt did worm its way into her heart. Perhaps she should have said something…
One month later…
It had been difficult no doubt, getting around with a cast and a corset. The aches and the pain are tolerable but irritating, throbbing non-stop; an under addressed issue, one which I attempted to put behind me without much thought or consideration. The cause of this issue is a different matter – she still frequents Anteiku, she stills sits in the same spot. She still reads, so those are the traits about her which she doesn’t fake. One peculiar thing is that she no longer brings her dates to Anteiku, if she has any at all. I’d like to feel flattered because of it.
Hide is also a constant within my life after my ‘accident’, more so than usual. The night I arrived in the hospital, somehow he had managed to deduce my non-replies to his texts and calls were a sign I was injured. Soon after my arrival at the hospital in the 20th ward, he too had found his way to my room. Afterwards I was treated to an extensive series of questions that I had been too weak to answer at that moment in time. The doctor had said I lost about 2 litres of blood and that I could have died from exsanguination, as customary of such injuries that were caused by ghouls.
Another surprise visitor was quite unexpected – a member of the CCG. Well, two of them, actually. Apparently it was customary for all the ghoul attack survivors to receive a detailed questioning session from the CCG about their endeavour. The more astute looking tall man, Amon Kotarou, was the one who did all of the talking. His partner in the mean time only listened and asked questions where clarification was necessary. I did keep my promise to Rize-san, of course, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t? This was an issue of her livelihood; while all I had to do was lie to people I had never seen before. An easy choice, even if I’m not the most natural liar.
The CCG always stressed the identity of the ghoul attacking. “What was this ghoul’s gender?” Amon asked.
“A male?” he reiterated to confirm.
“What age did they seem?” he continued.
“What were the appendages they assaulted you with like?”
“Were they wearing a mask?”
For every detail my imagination seemed to get wilder and wilder so. Almost as if my near death experience removing being a factor in removing my inhibitions, I pulled out all the knowledge I had on ghouls. “Ukaku, is that the kagune which resembles a pair of wings?” I feigned ignorance.
“Oh so you do have some knowledge pertaining to ghouls, Kaneki-kun,” interrupted the older man. His informality and patronising tone serving to disarm and calm the one being questioned, a way of tricking out information; a practiced technique, no doubt.
“I merely enjoyed reading the book on ghouls. Though I can’t remember the title of it for some reason, it helped sate my curiosity, especially with the growing prominence of the binge eater.” While a lot of the information I had given to them about Rize-san was erroneous, this was the truth. I had spent sometime learning information about ghouls even if some of the details are quite vague in my memory.
Eventually we had reached a profile of the ghoul who supposedly attacked me, a male who wore a semi orbed mask with a kagune resembling wings. As far from Rize-san as I could possibly take it…
Whilst recollecting I never seemed to notice Rize-san’s sudden proximity to me, with her waving her hand in my face and trying to draw a reaction.
“So you are alive, surprising considering how much blood you lost.” I smirked, my own ‘concern’ being a motivation for me to visit him.
“It’s surprising you moved to talk to me, Rize-san,” he attempted to be indifferent, diplomatic. Yet I saw his surprise. The tiniest flicker of the eye, the shift in arm stance. “Don’t worry Kaneki-san, it would be odd if we ignored each other after our ‘date’.”
Despite the pleasantries, this was a struggle for conversational direction, for there is no doubt about the plenitude of questions we have for each other. It is not often that two members of opposing species gather to have civil conversation. I decided to address the elephant in the room: “Why did you save me?” This question had been bothering me for the entire month of our separation, with the CCG apparently sending extra doves to the 20th ward. Among the posters my description was nowhere to be seen. Instead an ukaku ghoul with some interesting physical attributes was among the wanted for said ward.
“Rize-san, have you ever considered the concept of livelihood? I cannot blame you for killing as it is part of your nature,” he paused. My guess on his motivation was probably something higher serving, yet he asks me a question I never truly care for or considered. “Kaneki-san, you eat meat, don’t you?” I queried, hoping he would catch on and understand my rather crude point about ghoul and human relations.
“Hello there, Kaneki-kun.”
“Rize-chan.” I silently cursed at the sudden intrusion, the only irritation within my daily life that I couldn’t completely ignore – the old manager, Yoshimura. I’m guessing his personal involvement will involve asking Kaneki about his recovery as well as any clues about what he actually knows.
Unfortunately I was wrong.
“Kaneki-kun, you do know who attacked you?” the man queried out of the blue. The random nature of the remark was then elaborated on. “I merely heard you were attacked in the close vicinity. As a constant visitor of the café, we are invested in the well-being of our frequent customers.” His smile was genuine, at least for a human’s eyes. I could see careful calculation in the remark, almost like a form of dramatic irony. His eye in the sky superiority granted him information that he used to manipulate the perception of the situation. His intensity would have been suspicious, if not for the manager’s absolute certainty over Kaneki-san’s information about my identity.
This was possibly the worst-case scenario.
“What do you mean, manager?” Kaneki tried to deflect the question.
He could possibly be killed. Even I felt a bit upset at that prospect. Not that he, or anyone else would ever find out.
“I’m merely asking if your assailant was Rize-chan.”
That was unexpected. Before, I managed to somehow defend myself and prevent Yoshimura from evicting me from Anteiku.
“No, but Rize-san had saved my life. I was attacked by another ghoul, whom she repelled,” he deliberately said quietly, understanding the need for secrecy.
Once again my features may have been outwardly calm, however I was far from it. I was surprised by this human once more, though his selfless dedication to others would have probably disgusted me in any other situation. Yet here he was, lying to whom I presume he already deduced as a ghoul, for my sake.
I silently however scoffed at my own weakness, despite his attempts to help me. Maybe life isn’t important to him; maybe something else is. Perhaps if I find his true ‘love’ or goal I can demonstrate that his rescue and care for me was merely a spur of the moment.
“Yoshimura-san, what Kaneki-san has said is true. He was attacked by an odd looking ghoul whom I repelled. As all of the local tenants had seen us together, it would draw the CCG here if he died while he was on a date with me,” I lied artfully.
“This in turn means that Kaneki-kun falls under our protection at Anteiku, since he is one of the few representatives of the human race that would, for any reason, protect or save a ghoul.” What was peculiar about this scene was how the manager had used such powerful rhetoric, yet his movements and gestures looked like he was querying us on the quality of the coffee and whether or not we had enjoyed it. His ability to seem human and blend in with humans seems to come from years of experience. Despite our lack of significant interaction, I have always wondered where the manager had learned his skill of communicating his desire to individuals whose original aims and purpose couldn’t go farther from his own.
After the manager’s declaration of intent, no doubt to the confusion of my human companion, I mentally berate myself. Since when did he become ‘my’ human?
Chapter 4: ‘The date’
Anteiku was far from empty at this point in the morning. Yet, despite the relatively crowded atmosphere, it still retained the feeling of comfort and homeliness that it was so renowned for, with all of its patrons, human or ghoul, silently enjoying the coffee. As it was Yoshimura’s shift, this was an unspoken truth of the mornings. Due to his coffee being so highly demanded, it seemed that he single-handedly funded all of Anteiku’s costs.
“Kaneki-sann!” Rize called out as she saw him approach her table. Attempting to force the blush that adorned his face down, he approached, and mustering his courage, uttered, “Hello Rize-san, you do look quite attractive today”. If anything the surprise on her face was evident, followed by a slight red hue mirroring his own. Sitting down, Kaneki noticed his orange-haired companion attempting to inconspicuously show a most exaggerated thumbs up.
“Your friend is quite nice, Kaneki-san,” Rize said jokingly, her fun loving nature seeping past her human façade. Too busy assuring Hide he had gotten his hint, he didn’t notice Rize’s remarks. Mentally huffing at him for being ignored, she tried once more. “So, shall we get going, Kaneki-san?”
“Ah yes!” he exclaimed. “But wouldn’t you want a cup of coffee? It is the manager making it right now.”
While Rize did mentally berate herself for making a foul of herself in front of her ‘date’, her unflappable composure remained steadfast. “Touka-chan,” Kaneki waved toward the purple haired beauty.
Her expression was one of annoyance, one that she immediately terminated as she slipped into her waitress’ persona. “What can I get you two?” she said, mentally scoffing at Rize’s peaceful expression. Though Touka realised that she was being hypocritical, at least she doesn’t lure unsuspecting men for food. A certain amount of pride for her abilities to fight as a ghoul welled within the waitress.
After taking the orders from the young man she immediately set out to find the manager, slightly angry at her warning for Kaneki not reaching its mark.
Rize however, was surprised by something else entirely. He had managed to remember what she drank each time at the café, granted she had never changed her drink. It was surprising, and most definitely unexpected; a sort of pleasant snippet of information a real date could probably put to use. Yet, she merely attempted to smile pleasantly, thanking him for the latte.
Rize’s first person perspective.
‘There is no harm in enjoying myself for now”. That particular thought kept floating at the front of my inner musings, while my mental debate on how much I enjoy Kaneki’s company was still raging quite fiercely within my head.
“Kaneki-san, what hobbies besides reading do you have?” I attempted to inquire casually, with a curiously soft tongue. This question wouldn’t work if he felt trapped. While I can guess that he is unlikely to have anything as a hobby due to his lack of balance and simplicity of his personality, I still feel that if he reveals anything that I may have missed before, feigning ignorance would not lose any traction.
“I uhm, enjoy, well… It does depend on the situation.” He nervously responded, almost as if tilted by the question. Another failure of mine, I seem to be losing my touch.
Deciding to go for a more playful route, I ask, “Am I your first date?” The tone was almost patronising. Yet, it held warmth and understanding, the loneliness being a shared property of ours.
Perhaps he was tired of being on the defensive, or the heat of the room was getting to him, as he stammered
That was perhaps a final blow, too much for his patient logical mind to endure. It was adorable and also quite appetising. Deciding not to push the issue, I merely waved and giggled, “Its ok Kaneki-san, you are just too cute when you are like this,” While it may not have been the most eloquent response, it seemed the most appropriate based on how flustered he was.
Instead I decided to ask about the reason for his love for Takatsuki Sen. As a ghoul, it is the creeping accuracy of the description of our hunger, the ever-lasting danger and lack of security that draws the few of us that do read toward this author. Yet as humans, besides the horror, what would they find lurking in those dark tales?
“The idea of corruption, of growth through negativity is a nice breath of fresh air among various authors,” was his response. Yet despite it, I never understood his reasoning, for the madness that was a part of those novels bred nothing but disdain for the weak characters unable to withstand its corrupting recesses. Perhaps his viewpoint is this somber due to his family background, I mused to no one in particular.
“Kaneki-san, you never seemed to talk about your family, why is that?” I asked with a particular effervescent tone of voice, almost trying to permeate the question with a carefree attitude. The sudden change of his demeanour, though surprising, was all kind of expected. “Well, my mother had died when I was quite young,” he whispered. “So did my father, though I did get some time together with mother when she was alive,” he followed. I felt no sympathy, truly, for I was an orphan myself, and it really didn’t matter. For appearances sake, I merely nodded sympathetically and took a grasp of his hand from across the table.
His solemn expression was replaced by a blush as he was unsure of how to react to my simplistic gesture of sympathy. “Rize-chan, thank you,” was all the he uttered. The awkwardness that settled was irritating, as despite his cute unabashed innocence (I openly shudder at how excited I am for my meal), there is a lack of direction for our conversations. Deciding to take a risk, one that may open up an entertaining direction to our little date, I gambled. “Kaneki-san, I know this may be a random question, but what do you think of ghouls?”
It only took him a second to reply, meaning he either had already considered his stance on the issue or he does not see it as complex enough to require much more thought…
“Ghouls and humans, we all struggle, yet do we have a way to change what we are?” I beckoned him to continue, as I often asked this question to my meals, gauging their reply and mentally basing their torture and my meal on how shallow they are. He continued, “yet if I were to guess, a ghoul has no choice in the matter. If I were to suddenly become a ghoul, I think I would be disgusted at the beginning.” Although annoyance hit me at the use of the word ‘disgusted’, I agreed that if I became a human I would probably feel a same sort of disgust and disdain.
“I never seemed to think of it that way, as ghouls and humans are born into their own groups an-” I spoke.
“They never realise the struggles and issues of their counterpart,” he finished, after which a sheepish grin and apologies for interrupting me started pouring out from his mouth.
Once again my control over my irritation was flawless, although I do wish that I could have a similar level of control over my hunger.
Rize-chan and I talked for quite some time about a large variety of topics ranging from books to friendship and ghouls. My excitability surprised her and myself included. Despite my repeated attempts at containing myself and controlling my frantic pace of discussion, I failed miserably. Still, Rize-chan took it in stride, mirroring all of my actions with replies that made her seem masterful at the art of interaction.
One measly little detail was quite odd, however – her question about ghouls. It was not unlikely, with the Binge Eater and his attacks on the 20th ward, but sudden indeed. I shrugged it off as we continued to explore and discuss the various aspects of our lives that were interesting and note worthy. She did, however, seem to space out on multiple occasions, before replying quickly and on point, almost as if planning her responses.
But then again, this is a date. What good would it be if both of us made fools of ourselves, not just me?
It was getting quite late by the time we had decided to get back, so I decided to offer to walk her home. To my surprise, she pecked me on the cheek and beat me to the chase. “Thank you so much for the date, Kaneki-san,” followed by “would it be alright if you walked me home? It is getting quite late after all.”
While her proximity to me was not surprising, as she had been physically close to me all day, increasingly so, the nature of her closeness seemed a bit strange. It was almost as if she was breathless, frantic and uncontrolled.
“Rize-chan! Rize-chan! Are you alright?” before the words managed to leave my mouth, I flew.
I uttered a scream, one of pain and shock, as I hit something incredibly hard. Frantically, I looked for the source of the impact, my ears ringing from the shattering of stone against my side. What I did manage to catch was:
“Tag, you’re it!” If I were any less damaged, I would have been shocked by the glee it was spoken with. I attempted to struggle and run; I was attacked by a ghoul! As I tilted my head upward, I realised the source of the attack.
The struggle from me was over. I merely looked at her with eyes that held sympathy. My understanding for her question finally culminated in this moment where both our masks were shed.
“You don’t mind if I stir up your insides, do you?” she said with the same sadistic glee. Yet it held less of the madness compared to her initial outburst. Her breathing was laboured; the smirk she wore was still a constant on her ordinarily lovely face. Of course I know I should be angry, or at least upset for being tricked…
Yet I just couldn’t bring myself to a state of anger or disappointment for that matter. Instead I resigned myself. Not before the realisation that she was just toying with me, the question on ghouls used to gauge my reaction and play into her sadism, but the fact that my life was never something worth treasuring; I have only one friend, no ‘family’ besides my mother, and a relative in the form of my aunt.
Despite my belief that ghouls tend to finish their meals quickly, Rize-san merely continued throwing my unresponsive body like a doll into the various crèches of the construction site. Only because of my resignation did I notice the steel beams hanging above us, and faintly I caught a shadow working at them with the same appendages that Rize-san possesses. The pain was nigh unbearable, yet adrenaline had started to dull the initial shock, gifting me a throbbing presence instead of a stabbing pain…
Unbelievable, simply unbelievable! An entire day’s work, wasted! I understand that he may resign to his death, yet the peaceful serenity with which he had done so is simply daunting. The urge to prove him wrong, to show him that pain cannot always be endured was burning on the forefront of my mind. My rinkaku kagune kept tearing into his thighs and shoulders, trying to cause just enough pain to make him cry out and prove him wrong, yet enough to keep him alive.
Frantically, I kept taunting him with all manners of insults. “Kaneki-san, this pain, why is it you who is bearing it?” The same blank stare was his reply. Soon enough I merely tore into his shoulder, his flesh being as appetising as any other, yet between bites I kept hearing him say goodbye. Not that it mattered; he had already spoiled this meal for me. No amount of delectable flesh would change that.
In my hunger I failed to notice his other muttering of “look-out, Rize-san”, it was barely above a whisper. What was even more surprising was his attempt at pushing me, one that was so frantic and forced that a smirk adorned my face at the thought of my taunts and intimidation working.
Yet as I landed on the dirt, steel beams adorned the ground where I had previously been feasting…
Note: First time uploading any fanfiction onto this site, hence please be critical but constructively so when reviewing (if you decided to do so). If there is interest I might upload other things I have written.
Part 1: Set a week before Kaneki’s ‘date’ with Rize
Hide and Kaneki were once again at Anteiku, silently sipping coffee; well, at least Kaneki was doing so. Hide chattered about his growing attraction for the local waitress, one who’s purple bangs and seemingly innocent nature had, like many others, attracted him.
However, Kaneki’s attention was neither on the waitress nor the coffee that sat in front of his dazed and clueless expression. Instead he was fixated on a novel, the author being Takatsuki Sen, ‘The Black Goat’s Egg’. It was quite a peculiar novel, one about a serial killer mother, and the corruption it wrought onto the innocuous protagonist son. Despite the tragic and disturbing nature of the tale, Kaneki never paid heed to it. As though the grief that had already entered his life wasn’t enough for him.
“Kaneki”, “Kaneki!”, “Kaneki!” Hide continuously poked at his childhood friend. Rubbing the offended body part, Kaneki simply sheepishly responded, “Sorry, spaced out for a second”. What Kaneki did not notice immediately, however, was the grin that his friend was currently showcasing. It was a matter of the greatest importance, a grin that permeated mischief and chaos. “Look to your left,” Hide had whispered.
With a subtle turn of his head what Kaneki saw was quite unexpected. A young woman of a subtle complexion, her face and soft curved nose adorned by a pair of rimmed glasses. She looked like what you would expect a summer beauty to. Fresh, happy and quite innocent, the air suddenly took a lighter feel for Kaneki. Rize Kameshiro, a frequenter of the café, and in the same seat as well. “If I didn’t know any better, I would expect her to be a model,” Hide said pointedly.
“Why are we looking?” Kaneki uttered while hurriedly turning away from the beauty. Almost expecting said question, his friend interrupted him by pulling a hand to his face whilst simply shaking his head.
Not taking that as a useful hint for any information, Kaneki questioned once more, only stuttering ever so slightly “Why were we looking?”
“Haven’t you noticed?” Hide remarked silently.
This made Kaneki pause, as it was within his pedantic nature to attempt to notice some forms of irregularities. Yet he drew a blank in this instance, and at the same time he knew that his friend was a sharp one. More so than any of the other people he had associated himself with (that number not being significant).
“What was I supposed to notice?” was the response of the black haired teen, almost in semi formed exasperation, while the cheerful Hide simply chuckled. “Gotcha” was almost shouted with a smug grin. Despite the lack of response from Kaneki, Hide maintained the amused expression, somehow not noticing the lack of attention he was getting while the other teen simply indulged in the novel at hand due to his lack of success at the previous matter.
The vivid description of the taste of human flesh was almost surrealistic. As instead of describing some form of taste, a flavour perhaps, maybe even seasoning of some sort, it described the emotions associated with said hunger, that of anguish, sorrow and sadness. Then it even elaborated on the beauty of said colours of hunger and how they each represent a different loss – the colour purple for its radiance and ambiguity, the colour red for its anger and passion; finally, the colour blue for its sadness and compassion.
The morbid curiosity that attracted readers was amplified tenfold due to Kaneki’s intense fascination with Takatsuki Sen. The author who’s books had carried him and liberated him from loneliness, those and the goofball beside him. This train of thought was however interrupted by a jolt from the reinvigorated Hide.
His expression was one that was exaggeratedly excited, almost mimicking a child who was mischievously planning how to eat his candy.
“Nerd! Nerd! Hello? Earth to Kaneki!” he kept repeating toward the distracted young man, all the while trying to keep the waitress from leaving due to his friend’s non-responsive state.
“What would you like to order?” the patientwaitress tried once more while the sheepish looking Hide shrugged.
“Two lattes please, and if you don’t mind could you make them?” He tried sounding diplomatic and calm. Despite his attempt, however, it came out as curt and demanding, yet cute to some degree, the waitress had thought.
Just at that moment Kaneki raised his head to see the waitress departing and realised his blunder. Not a moment too soon as his friend merely laughed at his expense.
Hoping to combat the awkwardness of his failure, the black haired teen merely stated, “You did lose me, when you, you know, tried to make me guess the issue behind Rize-san’s mystery.” He grumbled good-naturedly.
Reflexively, Kaneki turned to watch the young woman leave as he thought of her, just barely catching her holding the exact same novel as him. “Oh,” he muttered, as the bells rang and her soft purple hair flowed out following her natural and almost practiced movements out.
Hurriedly, almost too much so, the boy peered out of the window, as if trying to catch a glimpse of the beauty or the novels she was holding. Instead what he got was a dazzling smile.
A caring smile, one that denoted the feelings warmth and affection; it was enough to make his innocent heart sing with ecstasy. When he was about to turn away hoping that the smile was not directed toward him, she waved.
Clearly and certainly she had waved towards him. It seemed that she had noticed his earlier blunders and attempts to observe her. Was she rewarding him? For his blunder? Silently he gulped and tried to look as relaxed as possible as he waved back, silently hoping that she would remember him next time they met, as it seems that they do have some things in common, don’t they?
“Thanks for the coffee, Touka chan!” Hide said, snapping Kaneki out of his daze for the last time that day. What stood in front of them were two cups of well-brewed latte. The latte art, however, was quite different; Hide’s was simply a tree.
Kaneki’s, however, was a stop sign.
Chapter 3: The fateful morning!
Hazily, as I rose from the bed in my modest apartment, fondly I touched the book that had kept me company for the night. The cover of ‘Blood Meridian’ gave me the familiar chill that all horror novels had. Yet it was definitely pleasant in its own way, one of the few small pleasures of my colourless life. Looking up to the room devoid of light, the dust and the scattered novels did give the room a certain appeal, almost conveying the loneliness and lack of human contact, contrasted with the rich content on the white pages.
“Each tells a different story,” I muttered, yet mine is just mine. The brutality I read is certainly too far removed from my life. While I do enjoy watching the corruption of the heart and mind depicted through a series of tragic events, I silently continue to hope that it stays that way…
Stretching my hands and legs, I wrap the blanket around the top of my head, reflecting on how I had managed to get a date with such a beautiful woman.
“It is hard to find someone who appreciates literature and a rich cup of coffee,” her words echoed bringing a warm sheepish smile to my face. Of course Hide tries quite hard to follow and discuss my hobby, harder than I ever do for his interests. Yet Rize-san possesses a certain affinity for the subject, ripping the words I meant to say out of my mouth, though her gentle guidance seems like a soft path, attempting to drive me toward her opinion through well thought out statements and curt observations. Perhaps I am hopeless, as it is her beauty and soft features that make her language that much more powerful.
I spent one too many nights trying to understand why she had approached and noticed me on our first meeting; Hide’s hasn’t been letting me off on any occasion, attempting to pry every single detail about our first conversation and probe it with his deft mental capacity. Of course I resist, but eventually I give in. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t?
The ringing of the phone companied by the playing of ‘requiem for a dream’ meant the arrival of a call. At this hour, only one person would and could call me; I chuckle as I pick up the device listening to the first sounds of the call.
“Kaneki! I do realise both of you love books, but a library truly is the lamest place, ever. For a first date.” he said with a flat tone, before proceeding to whine some more. “Wouldn’t the movies do, perhaps some horror would be quite the highlight? Don’t both of you adore it?”
Flustered and slightly on the defensive, I merely reply “Hello- to you too!” I say stressing the latter.
“Yes Hide, I am definitely sure I want to go to a book store,” and despite my irritation and aggravation there is still a playful edge to my voice, one that he catches without failure. “It sounds you almost enjoy being scolded. Perhaps Rize-chan is just as into that kind of thing.” Almost falling over from the shock of his comment, I attempt to recuperate and retort, yet nothing except for simple denial comes to mind. Ironic that I would read so much, just to find myself lost for words.
“Hello? Kaneki?… While I realise that I have completely caught and annihilated you verbally…” I could almost imagine him smirking. “I do still have to remind you that your ‘date’ is in one hour!” verbally berating myself for such a lack of foresight, I quickly dropped the blanket from my head, its warmth leaving my presence being a most unpleasant feeling, the safety and security it offered serving as a constant of the morning. “Yes Hide! Fully ready to run” I jokingly remarked.
“Going to go get ready now… I’ll talk to you when I get to Anteiku” I stated rather quickly, too quickly almost.
“Jerk” he muttered while laughing as he hung up. Despite my cold reply and overall demeanour, I simply attribute the whole situation to our mutual understanding. He is practically the only person I do talk to, not that I would admit it, especially to him. Sometimes he is the only one who keeps me rooted in this bland reality. Once again I mentally berate myself for such an outlook. For I always promised myself to keep going despite any challenges this life throws at me.
Perhaps he is the only one who gets to see this cynical side of me, not for too long however. I hate to bring him down with it, especially considering how much he had helped me over the years. Not that he’d ever mention it. He’s just too nice of a person, and too perceptive if need be. His joyous gaze becoming solemn over the duration of a relative time period, instantly dissecting your worries. Making them his…
Of course accusing him of selfishness would be wrong, as he merely adopted the problem. Still his wholehearted commitment inspires me to try and do the same for someone. Secretly I hope that once I do get to know Rize-san better she is of the same opinion. I seem to physically glow at that possibility, as if she does seem like a companion and someone I would like to get to know better.
A more doubtful side of me however kept saying that her smile was too perfect. Her movements too practiced and her dialogue too natural. Of course that would be too crazy, I’m definitely not special enough for such special effort on her part.
The passing time made me quite aware of my surroundings for once, the fact that 15 minutes had passed was surprising but not abnormal. After all, Anteiku was not far away at all…
My date with Kaneki-kun was supposed to be today wasn’t it, such a shame. I truly did enjoy his company while it lasted. His idea for the date at the bookstore truly does fit us if we were an ordinary human couple. Silently I smirk while contemplating the idea. If I were born human, would I be less cynical? Or violent? Perhaps. It is funny contemplating the endless possibilities and I would have done so if I hadn’t had my meal planned for tonight.
Wiggling my toes I got up from my satin bed, the sunlight illuminated the through the half-drawn curtains. While the shade of the light entering the room was certainly exquisite. Falling directly on the striped carnations in the vase on the table next to the window. I would find out what they represent, but in this bind for time I don’t feel the necessity. Especially considering the faster I get this date over with, the faster I can sate the thirst. My kakugan materialising as I temporarily lose control of the hunger.
“I thought I had gotten pretty good at controlling it, despite my voraciousness…” I sighed and pouted in disappointment at my loss of control, generally one of those in public could lead to my demise. Despite the pathetic lower ranked CCG members, there are always special class investigators, those can pose an issue. Unlike normal humans or other ghouls, they know what to look for and where if they are trying to kill me, not that I would ever mess up that badly… I’m not a weakling.
Remembering tales of the CCG’s s reaper does making me slightly uncomfortable, like any self-respecting creature. I fear death, especially if it comes in the package of an investigator who hadn’t been scratched by a ghoul’s kagune in years… perhaps I should cannibalise, acquire myself a kakuja. Immediately reflecting on how I might eventually be able to combat him on equal terms. Perhaps that’s getting too far ahead of myself I muse. I am stronger than most of the ghouls in Tokyo, this allows me to roam the wards uninhibited.
Perhaps that is the reason Jason is on my trail. Is it my haughtiness? A lady does have her needs, even if those take the form of a massive amount of sustenance. A smirk adorning my face, I recall the innumerable times I had caused issues for the various ghoul communities across Tokyo. Leaving the positive memories momentarily, I had reached into my closet and observed the assortment of clothing sitting and gathering dust. Considering my meal later today, perhaps I should wear something more disposable. Yet a feeling within me says that white and red would go pretty well together. Especially if I were to get rid of the purple…